Newsreel footage of Holland-America Line’s TSS Rotterdam 1915 and SS Nieuw Amsterdam 1938

Cruising the Past: Newsreel footage of Holland-America Line’s TSS Rotterdam 1915 (seen above) and SS Nieuw Amsterdam 1938.

These are great scenes of Holland-America Liner’s TSS ROTTERDAM and the SS NIEUW AMSTERDAM.

The ROTTERDAM IV – 1908 – 1940.  –  Built by Harland and Wolff, Belfast, the ROTTERDAM IV featured service for 530 First, 555 Second and 2,124 Third Class passengers. She was a liner with two funnels, Holland America’s first, 650 feet in length and 77 feet wide. Her registered tonnage was 24,170 and displacement of 37,190 tons. She traveled at an average of 16.5 knots. She was sold in January of 1940 to Dutch breakers.

The ROTTERDAM IV had the distinction of being one of the earlier ships of the Holland America Line used for pleasure cruising. (The first Holland America cruise was to Copenhagen on the ROTTERDAM II in June 1895 and the second Holland America cruise going to the Holy Land on the STATENDAM in 1910.)

She was specially chartered for “Clark’s 16th Annual Cruise to the Mediterranean and the Orient” which would begin on February 16, 1914, leaving New York. It was a tour of 64 or 70 days. The ship was advertised as “sumptuous” with 56 rooms with brass bedsteads and private baths. There were also 150 single rooms and “no overcrowding”.

It was first class throughout.

For $400 and up, your cruise would include shore excursions, guides, fees, hotels, drives and all necessary expenses. Special features included stops at Madeira, Cadiz, Seville, Athens, Constantinople, 16 days in Palestine and Egypt, and 4 days in Rome, Monte Carlo, as well as other ports of call.

The following are excerpts from the itinerary brochure:


The S. S. “Rotterdam” (24,170 tons), of the Holland America Line, is one the finest,largest and most popular ships crossing the Atlantic and cost about $5,000,000 to build.

She has become famous because of her exceptionally attractive features, so that many discriminating travelers choose her in preference to any other Atlantic steamer.

In luxurious appointments, in extraordinary size of rooms,averaging much larger than on any of our ships on previous Cruises, as well as in her extreme steadiness, almost eliminating seasickness, she is unsurpassed.

She has 56 suites and rooms with brass bedsteads and private baths, and over 100 single rooms, together with a beautiful Palm Court, Verandah Cafe, Elevator, Social Hall, Library, 3 Smoke Rooms, a glass enclosed Promenade Deck, electrically forced ventilation of hot and cold air, etc.

Most of the outside staterooms have two, and in some cases three, windows or portholes, some being fitted with a device that admits fresh air freely, even when the porthole is closed.

One of her most attractive features is an immense Dining Saloon, seating nearly 500 people at small tables, where all of our passengers will take their meals, and where an orchestra of artists of high merit will play during lunch and dinner, as well as in the Social Hall in the evening.

The cuisine is strictly French and is famous among the most exacting travelers. Meals will be served a la carte (not table d’hote), passengers ordering what they like, without extra charge, from an elaborate bill of fare. The stewards and stewardesses on the “Rotterdam” speak English.

Time never drags on board of the steamer on our Cruises, as the social life is enjoyable and informal to an extraordinary degree.

Program and Dining Menu from Holland America Line courtesy of GJENVICK.COM.

There is a constant round of attractive features: namely, lectures, dances, concerts, progressive euchre or auction bridge and prizes, gymkana games on deck with prizes, meetings of Travelers’ Clubs, of the D.A.R., Masons, Camera Club, Musical Club, etc.

Services with musical features and brief sermons by prominent ministers will be held on Sundays, except when in port.


The “Rotterdam” is the newest and by far the finest addition to the great modern fleet of the Holland-America Line, exceptionally steady on account of her size and her tremendous bilge keels, and is thoroughly up-to-date in equipment.

Passengers may be outdoors on the Promenade Deck under practically all weather conditions, deriving at all times the benefit of the invigorating fresh air, as this deck is partly enclosed on three sides with large widows which may be opened or closed at will.

The topmost of the passenger accommodation is located on this Promenade Deck and consists of two beautifully appointed sets of rooms en suite.

On the deck below, including the entire length of the deck house, are two other suites similar in appointment, and large outside cabins containing two or three berths, and nearly two score cabins arranged for the exclusive occupancy of one person.

A feature of two blocks of rooms on this deck is the communicating door between the inside and the outside rooms, making them particularly desirable for the use of families or friends.

On Deck “B” is an innovation in modern liners, there being virtually a whole deck of cabins each with a private bath and toilet connecting.

The rooms are fitted each with brass beds and most of them, in addition, are provided with a Pullman or folding upper berth, so that they may on occasion take three persons.

Today’s ROTTERDAM VI – click here for complete information about cruising aboard this new Holland-America Line ship.

First Class Dining Room aboard the NIEUW AMSTERDAM: The Dining Room on A Deck is an exquisitely delicate setting of ivory walls, pale gold ceiling, gold leaf columns, tinted mirrors, satinwood furniture, two toned blue carpet and handmade frosty Murano glass lighting fixtures. Three is not a single element, not even in such decorative details as the painted and burnt glass murals, to distract you from relishing every morsel of the tempting cuisine prepared by Spotless Fleet chefs. There are no windows or portholes to remind you of a restless sea. The modern air conditioning system keeps the temperature of the room comfortably fresh at all times, regardless of the weather out-of-doors.

For additional information on the SS NIEUW AMSTERDAM CLICK HERE.

Our thanks to the Unofficial Holland America Line history site for many of the early passenger photos.

Postcard from the TSS ROTTERDAM.


About Michael L. Grace

MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur & stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London's West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year. He has written movies for TV, including the award-winning thriller LADY KILLER, various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta. Besides co-writing and co-producing SNOOPY, he wrote and produced the one-man play KENNEDY. He produced P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY - THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and has starred Andrew Stevens, Gregory Harrison and Joseph Bottoms. He has recently been involved in European productions with CLT-UFA, Europe's leading commercial television and radio broadcaster. He wrote MOWs THE DOLL COLLECTION, THE BOTTOM LINE and LAST WITNESS for German television. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous leftwing Paris daily, and as a travel writer. He visited more than 50 countries. He struggled as an actor, then joined the enemy and entered the training program at William Morris. He became a publicist and worked for Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, at Paramount and MGM. He followed with a brief stint as a story executive, working in the frantic horror genre period of the early 80s and wrote THE UNSEEN. He went onto write for episodic television and develop series pilots. He was a continuing writer on such series such as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many uncredited rewrites on TV movies and features. He is currently writing A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and, IT'S THE LOVE BOAT... AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship. He was raised in Los Angeles. He attended St. Paul's, USC and the Pasadena Playhouse. He received a B.A from San Francisco State University where he majored in theatre arts and minored in creative writing. He is listed as a SFSU leading alumni. He also apprenticed at ACT - The American Conservatory Theatre. For a brief period he had intentions of becoming an Episcopal(Anglican) priest and attended seminary at Kelham Theological College in the UK. When "the calling" wasn't there, he left seminary and did graduate work at the American University of Beirut. He has guest lectured at USC, UC San Diego, McGill, Univ. of London and the Univ. of Texas on the business aspects of making a living and surviving as a writer, focusing on development hell, in the Hollywood entertainment industry. Grace is a lifetime member of the Writers Guild of America, the Dramatist Guild and former regional chairman of the Steamship Historical Society of America. He resides in Palm Springs.

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